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Writing How to Restore Your Creative Muse [Help thread]


Aberinkula
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[COLOR="Navy"]Lately I've been unable to formulate a good story/poem. I'm not the only one with this problem tough. DigitalBoy has put Esper Jam! on hiatus, because his muse has left. Which is very sad because it was a really good RPG. Lately I haven't been adding new chapters to some of my stories because I'm out of ideas for any of them.

[B]So does anyone have any tips on how to fix a broken muse? Post anything that could help people break their writer's block. you can even post stories abot your writers block if you wish.[/B][/COLOR]
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[color=darkred][size=1]

Read, alot. Comics, manga, text books, fiction, non-fiction, whatever. It helps. Also ask alot of "what-if?" questions to base ideas around. Formulate a story around an interesting character you thought of and want to use.

Or, my favorite part, just emmerse yourself in pop culture, movies, music, televisions, etc.[/color][/size]
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[quote name='The Boss'][color=darkred][size=1]Or, my favorite part, just emmerse yourself in pop culture, movies, music, televisions, etc.[/color][/size][/QUOTE]

That doesn't work for me lol. I always ask the question, "How can I write extraordinary things if I live an ordinary life?"

I ask it because recently I have been going out with my friends a lot more, drinking until my head falls off, going out some more, sleeping in, generally being very lazy. When I think "Oooh I want to write something!" I try and try to think of something to write about, but nothing comes. In the course of the day, however, I'll think of one line for a potential poem, something really witty and different. This, as you can guess, does not really work without the rest of the poem, lol.

So what I do is I keep a little notebook of all these 'one-liners' - I write it down, bother the Muses no longer, shut the book and get on with my life.

The French author Flaubert was convinced that you could only write if you kept yourself to yourself. This works. When I was at university I wrote well over a hundred poems, possibly even more than that. Why? Because I was working more - I had my own space, and could choose to not be overly social for a while without too much hassle. I would socialise, but not to an extreme.

But a temporary cure?

Take a walk, somewhere nice and pretty, sit down (you don't have to - I don't) and [i]think[/i] about a poem about the place. Perhaps you could add more depth by making it a story. Walks are always good for writer's block. You can vary them how you want to as well - if you're feeling urban, take a walk around town; if you feel adventurous, go find a forest or something. It can be anything you want really. The next step is up to you: your [b]imagination[/b].

This is like an eternally-hungry, temperamental beast. You have to keep it well fed with books, poetry, music, and maybe even newspapers. It grows with everything you read - so read more, for a long-term solution. And when it sleeps, let it sleep! There's nothing worse than waking it up to produce a crappy, forced piece of writing - you will feel worse for trying, trust me. You should wait it out when it is dormant, and all the while just [u]read read read[/u]!

I am suffering this terrible ailment at the moment, and I'm seriously considering Flaubert's option! :p
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[FONT="Arial"]My problem is not that I have no ideas--I have plenty, both good and bad. I just can't seem to get the idea on paper and flesh it out.

I usually get these ideas watching TV, as bad as that might sound. I have a large group of characters (all vampires, lolz) that I love writing situational stories about. The situations range from buying a car to being passengers on the Titanic, and unfortunately I haven't been able to write EITHER story. Anyway, when I'm watching TV (let's say the episode of Fresh Prince when Aunt Vivian goes into labor) I'll think "This how this character would react to that!" And then I have a potential story.

I also wrote some cute vignettes based on an episode of the Cosby Show. Of course, I was talking to the friend who urges me to write these stories, so that probably had something to do with my ideas.

Right now I'm reading "On Writing" by Stephen King for my AP Language class next school year, and it's turned out to be a pretty interesting read. Whenever I close the book I feel the urge to write something. He has pretty good advice on how to actually write something (grammar, plot, "bells and whistles" such as symbolism and theme).

King also suggests you find an Ideal Reader: someone you feel you're writing for. Mine is the friend I mentioned before--I write almost everything with her in mind. I suppose if you have an Ideal Reader then you'll be more inspired to right something for them.

It might help to try to write something while listening to music. Once I made a huge playlist full of dark, wintry songs, turned off my lamp and plugged in some Christmas lights, and went to work. (I don't remember if I actually wrote anything worthwhile, but I was definitely in the mood).

[SIZE="1"]By the way, I actually did write a story inspired by that episode of Fresh Prince, but it seems awfully silly to me. I'm still considering whether or not to post it here.[/SIZE]
[/FONT]
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[quote name='Clurr'][FONT="Arial"]King also suggests you find an Ideal Reader: someone you feel you're writing for. Mine is the friend I mentioned before--I write almost everything with her in mind. I suppose if you have an Ideal Reader then you'll be more inspired to right something for them.
[/FONT][/QUOTE]

Maybe I'm having problems because I write with me in mind lol.
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[quote name='Break']Maybe I'm having problems because I write with me in mind lol.[/QUOTE]

[FONT="Arial"]Haha, well, even with my "ideal reader" I have troubles writing things. In fact, more often than not she'll get mad at me that I honestly can't write a story for her. :/[/FONT]
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[quote name='Clurr'][FONT="Arial"]Haha, well, even with my "ideal reader" I have troubles writing things. In fact, more often than not she'll get mad at me that I honestly can't write a story for her. :/[/FONT][/QUOTE]

Write for [u]you[/u] and then see if she likes it. Writers are supposed to be arrogant and egotistical - [i]do it![/i] lol
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[quote name='Break']Write for [u]you[/u] and then see if she likes it. Writers are supposed to be arrogant and egotistical - [i]do it![/i] lol[/QUOTE]

[FONT="Arial"]Woops, I didn't mean that I wrote specifically FOR her. I do love what I write and I wouldn't write anything just because someone else wants me to.[/FONT]
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[quote name='Clurr'][FONT="Arial"]Woops, I didn't mean that I wrote specifically FOR her. I do love what I write and I wouldn't write anything just because someone else wants me to.[/FONT][/QUOTE]

Ah right. She's not your patroness then? :p

I would. In fact, stuff I [i]do[/i] write for other people ends up getting a good reception. I'm a complete whore. lol.
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Interestingly enough, I went to my dad about this, and he emphasized the idea of writing about something with which you are familiar. Even if what you're writing is fantastic and not really grounded in reality, you might have a better time of things if you base some of it on something with which you are experienced, like a certain type of relationship between characters or a location or subject that means something to you.

If you're thinking about writing on some sort of theme or subject with which you are not very experienced, try doing research. I was writing a sci-fi story in my high school years and I ended up going to my Chemistry teacher for advice on how to explain things that happened in the story. Admittedly, the story was not completed, but I did learn quite a bit and some of the things I did learn will likely resurface in a later work.

As Break mentioned, though you might not be expected to write about the extraordinary if you live ordinarily, there are definitely certain aspects of ordinary life that can make a work much more engaging and believable. Therefore, even if you have to write about something you don't know, try starting it off by writing about something you do know.

As far as how I come up with ideas...I usually start with a dialogue or a topic of conversation. The train of thought goes as follows:

1. What is being talked about? I have to think of something worthy of discussion, be it a philosophical discussion to an argument of whatever inane nature.

2. Who is speaking? I have to come up with people who would have said theoretical discussion, and what their ideas on the subject would say about their personalities.

3. What would be done with the conversation? This is where I ask how the discussion would fit into the framework of a theoretical story. Is the discussion integral to the plot or does it say something about the characters?

So, since we have at least a couple of characters and an idea of what their relationship is to each other and the plot, we have an idea of what sort of story could emerge.

I admit, it's probably a strange train of thought, but I like working with dialogue as a method of expressing characterization, and I usually spend a lot of my energy in a story thinking about the dialogue. I have also taken a lot of theatre classes, so I like to occasionally get up from my chair and have the conversation in question with myself to make sure it flows.

Speaking to myself aside, writer's block usually isn't that much of an issue for me, it's just having the patience to sit down and actually type everything that I find bothersome. With that in mind, though, I hope things work out for those of you with writer's block, and maybe if you feel uncertain about an idea, then you seek help from someone you know with it...just be careful not to talk about it too much, because then you won't feel like writing it.
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[COLOR="DarkOrange"]Interesting, [B]Break[/B], that you mentioned not being able to write creatively since you live an ordinary life. For me, I've always had to ask myself how can I write realistic characters when the only person I understand is myself? I feel like I'm not allowed to write about anyone unless they're like me, simply because I hate to see a lack of realism in my characters :animesigh

As for suggestions to read or immerse oneself in pop culture, that can be a double-edged sword. I am listening to music 24-7, I watch a ton of TV and anime and stuff, so I've always got something around me. The thing is, that works in 2 ways for me.

The first is that I tend to let the music I listen to get involved in my writing. You can see this a lot in the titles of chapters in my RPs ("[B]And the Druids turn to Stone[/B]" = [B]Ayreon[/B], "[B]Time Consumer[/B]" = [B]Coheed and Cambria[/B]) and often times the tone of the music and how it effects my mood comes into play as well. The problem with that is that if I change what I'm listening to, sometimes the tone can suddenly change dramatically >_> For instance if I'm depressed, my characters are gunna be all sobby, but then when i get happy again, I won't want to deal with the depressing situations.

The second effect of looking to other stories is that I let them influence me to the point that I feel like i'm ripping them off. For instance, when I read [B]Genshiken [/B]it got me all pumped to do a slice-of-life story and when I watched [B]Welcome to the NHK[/B], I thought of doind a seclusive psychological story, but then I always feel like I'm ripping someone off.

That's why I've been doing very little creative writing lately and focusing mostly on RPGs, where i can control the story, but don't have the pressure of always having to continue the story.[/COLOR]
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[SIZE="1"]While writer's block is, as I've found, an inescapable part of the creative process, I would tend to agree with Mike and Break on their opinions of how to alleviate it. My personal favourite is listening to a piece or pieces of music that fit the mood of what you're trying to write.

Is anyone else here completely unable to write when someone is looking over their shoulder ? [/SIZE]
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[color=darkred][size=1]

What Gavin stated, really is the only time that I am unable to write ANYTHING. Usually I can force myself to come up with something, but when a person's right behind me, I just can't do it. My whole creative process just shuts down.[/color][/size]
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[COLOR="DarkOrange"]XD I agree with both of you. Well, for me I can't really do anything with someone standing behind me. I get really mad at people for being behind me - there's like a 120 degree angle proportional to my spine where no one can be at any time >_> Otherwise I loose functionality.

It sucks when I'm on the comp cuz if my mom's in the room behind me I'm like [B]'mom... could you.. not stand behind me?[/B]' to which the reaction is always [B]'why?! Are you looking at something you don't want me to see?!'[/B]

... like I'm going to be looking at porn midday in the living room ...[/COLOR]
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[FONT="Arial"]I can't really do anything creative when I'm around other people, not even my friends and family. I would draw and scribble random story ideas in Spanish class and people kept talking to me about them, which I hated. The other day, I was sitting at the dining table writing something and whenever my parents came through the room I would have to close my composition book until they left.

My mom said she would never read over my shoulder, though, which is comforting.

Also, I can't STAND writing on wide-ruled paper. Unfortunately, that's exactly the kind of ruling in both my composition books. Bleh. I don't know why I hate it so much, I just much prefer college ruled.

Does anyone think the method of writing might have something to do with it? I don't know; whether it's notebook paper, Microsoft Word, or a type writer, the blank page does a good job of frightening me.[/FONT]
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[quote name='Clurr'][FONT="Arial"]Also, I can't STAND writing on wide-ruled paper. Unfortunately, that's exactly the kind of ruling in both my composition books. Bleh. I don't know why I hate it so much, I just much prefer college ruled.[/FONT][/QUOTE]

[SIZE="1"]Oh thank God, finally someone else who hates those wide margins as well, they're just so wasteful looking aren't they ? Though I normally just get notepads with no margins and add them myself.[/SIZE]

[quote name='Clurr'][FONT="Arial"]Does anyone think the method of writing might have something to do with it? I don't know; whether it's notebook paper, Microsoft Word, or a type writer, the blank page does a good job of frightening me.[/FONT][/QUOTE]

[SIZE="1"]Depends on what's at hand really. Ninety-nine percent of the time I use Word, but if I'm away from my PC and happen to have a notepad and pen handy I've no real objection to it, though I do find myself crossing out entire paragraphs that I dislike, so it's a bit messier than a Word document. [/SIZE]
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Wide rule is silly. I have really small handwriting.

I write wherever. In Word or in a notebook. I think it does have something to do with it - to be honest, there is something about typing a poem that makes it much easier to be creative than in a jotter or something. I dunno why.
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[COLOR="DarkOrange"]I bloody hate wide rule too! I can't stand to waste that much damn paper. When I have wide rule paper, I tend to respond be witing as unintelligebly and erratically as possible (I've been told I have the worst handwriting in the history of time, period). College rule makes the space smaller and therefor easier to manage, plus I fit more on the damn paper.

Also, I always feel it necessary to either shorten something so that it fits only on the first page, or if I end up on the back, I write everything spaced out and large so I can reach the bottom of the page. Or I write a post statement. Or 3.

I agree that a blank page is daunting. In word, I hate how you can't look at the other page, and if you try it resets whenever you backspace. It's the most frightening when you aren't fully sure what you intend on saying next... drives me insane...[/COLOR]
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[COLOR="Indigo"][quote name='Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]QFT

Writing on wide-rule paper is like riding a kiddie bike with training wheels. You feel like a gigantic monkey the entire time.[/FONT][/QUOTE]You people are silly. :p Wide-ruled paper is great stuff. Especially if you don't have tiny neat handwriting. Or like my aunt, have severe arthritis that keeps you from writing small as well. In the end I'll take Word over paper any day.

As for restoring one's creative muse? Don't force it. If you really are stuck go do something fun and totally unrelated to writing. I tend to feel more focused after that and even if that muse isn't fully restored, it is at least back on track to getting there.[/COLOR]
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[quote name='indifference][COLOR="Indigo"']You people are silly. :p Wide-ruled paper is great stuff. Especially if you don't have tiny neat handwriting.[/COLOR][/quote]
[FONT=Arial]Bah. The size of one's handwriting is controllable. You're just making excuses.

Your aunt, however, has a legitimate reason.

I get two different types of block: block where I can't see anything and block when I can't write down what I can see. Honestly, if I have utterly no creative muse, then it is a [I]really[/I] bad day. Usually days where I can't even come up with scene one are also days when I feel slightly murderous. (As in, "slightly" is a nicety.) I know the two are connected, but I'm not certain which one influences which.

Whether or not I have writer's block while I'm in commune with my muse is another story. Normally it takes me about an hour of watching a particular scene repeatedly before I am able to put down the first word. (Naturally, I hate timed writing.) As such, I am quite used to staring at a piece of blank [I]looseleaf college-rule notebook paper[/I] *cough* for long periods of time without accomplishing anything. The problem stems from my inability to accurately translate visuals to words, since I get hung up on a word not sounding right, but I get over this barrier eventually. And once I get the first few words or sentences down, I typically start flowing pretty well.

I get blocked when I'm partways in and the next word either won't come, or the one I have doesn't sound right and a suitable synonym won't come. I've spent days in this predicament, grinding away at the errant sentence in my head while trying to act like I'm still a conscious human being. (Ironically, the word usually returns to me at the exact moment that I have nothing to write with, or even on ? discounting myself.)

Patience is the only sure cure for either of them. You can listen to music, read, do something completely different, whatever works for you. Bottom line is that you give it time and don't force it.[/FONT]
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[COLOR="Indigo"][quote name='Gavin;784502][SIZE="1"]BURN THE HERETIC !! ;)[/SIZE][/QUOTE]Well so long as nobody wants to stuff me in a freezer... I'm game. Brrr! Anyway...[QUOTE=Allamorph'][FONT=Arial]Bah. The size of one's handwriting is controllable. You're just making excuses.

Your aunt, however, has a legitimate reason.[/FONT][/QUOTE]Bah! You're expecting me to like tiny handwriting, discrimination I say! :p And yeah, my aunt does have a good reason.

Also I forgot to mention. Another thing I've done when I'm coming up dry on ideas is to keep notes on dreams I've had for a while. At the end of a week, I'll often find something useful out of the wacky dreams I've had that helps me to start feeling creative again. [/COLOR]
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